Emma Atkinson

Emma Atkinson

I choose the University of Leeds because of its convenient location, being from Leeds meant that I could stay at home and save money on accommodation. The reasonable fees played a part in my decision. Leeds is a vibrant city with lots to do and explore, and the university's city centre location is advantageous. 

I really enjoyed the practical sessions, which allowed us to try out the techniques we'd learn about in lectures. Each practical session built upon the last, and this allowed us to practice each skill multiple times. The small group sizes meant there was more individual attention and more opportunities for help and feedback.

The highlights of the course were designing our own IVF clinic and taking a trip to Leeds Fertility to see a working IVF laboratory and having the opportunity to speak with embryologists and have our questions answered. 

The greatest challenge was learning to reflect on the work done in each practical session. At first, I found this difficult, as it wasn't something I was used to doing, but I improved over time. It's an important skill to take forward into the workplace in order to succeed.

My project investigated the effects of culture media on the transcriptome of the mouse preimplantation embryo. Tasks included lysis of embryos, cDNA generation by smart-seq2 protocol, assessment of cDNA quality with housekeeping genes, and assessment of expression of test genes by conventional and real-time PCR.

The research project provided me with laboratory experience, with employers like to see. It allowed me to work independently, using skills learnt throughout the course to investigate a particular topic.

I had access to all the necessary lab space, along with software, hardware and consumables etc. There was always a computer available for us.

The highlights of my time at the University of Leeds have been meeting and becoming great friends with people from all over the world.

The 24-hour study clusters allowed me to work at times most convenient for me, particularly on weekends when the libraries closed early.

The university provided a lot of support when needed. Lecturers were always available to answer my queries and they responded promptly to emails. Throughout my research project, I had multiple opportunities to meet with my project supervisor to discuss my progress. These sessions were very useful and much appreciated, after hearing stories from friends at other universities who only met with their supervisors once throughout their whole project. Furthermore, one to one sessions were provided for statistics to help.

I hope to become an Embryologist, and this course has better prepared me for this career choice. It has taught me the fundamental techniques employed in assisted reproduction and allowed me to practice these in the laboratory. My current employer was impressed to learn I had this opportunity to learn these practical skills. As part of the course we had careers session, in which we were informed about the STP and how to apply for it, in order to qualify as a registered clinical scientist.